Every firefighter in West Yorkshire called to Bradford fire which led to evacuations, cancellations and thick smoke reaching as far as Leeds
Every active firefighter working for West Yorkshire Fire Service attended a huge tyre blaze in Bradford at some point – Councillors have been told.
The fire at a tyre storage yard at Spring Mill Street in Bradford took three weeks to fully extinguish, and has proved to be the biggest blaze in West Yorkshire in the past year.
The large plumes of smoke were so thick that people in west Leeds were urged to keep their windows closed and trains between Bradford Interchange and Leeds, including New Pudsey and Bramley, were cancelled.
More details of the fire were revealed at a meeting of West Yorkshire Fire Authority on Thursday, when members heard that “virtually every member” of the fire service attended the incident at some point.
A report into the performance of the service in the past year was presented to the committee, which included list of the biggest call outs experienced by the service.
The tyre fire, which began just after 3am on November 16, saw the biggest response by far.
At its height 15 fire engines and 90 firefighters were at the site.
These included crews from Shipley, Odsal, Fairweather Green, Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Bingley, Rawdon, Illingworth, Killingbeck, Hunslet, Morley, Rastrick, Ossett, Killingbeck and Stanningley.
Over 600,000 tyres were being stored at the site, and the blaze caused huge disruption in the city.
Trains coming into nearby Bradford Interchange were cancelled, roads were closed and houses evacuated.
Many schools and businesses in the area were shut due to concerns over the potentially toxic smoke.
The report into the fire said: “The cause of this fire is suspected deliberate ignition.”
On November 18 police arrested a a 59-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman in North Yorkshire in relation to the incident.
The meeting was told that despite these two arrests having been made, no-one has yet been charged, and the investigation remains ongoing.
The fire was so huge that the service did not officially close the incident until 9am on December 5.
The Environment Agency was also involved to help prevent polluted water liquids from the blaze from entering the water system.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “As you’ll see from the report, we were on site for three weeks before we were finally able to close the incident down.
“The vast majority of work was done in the first week. Tyre fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish – the whole idea of rubber is to keep water out.
“It is appropriate to recognise the fantastic effort of the crews – all this work was done under Covid conditions which made it even more difficult to do.
“While the police investigation is ongoing, no charges have been forthcoming at this stage.”
Councillor Mike Pollard (Cons, Baildon) said: “The report describes it as a 15 pump incident, but due to the length of the incident do we know how many firefighters were actually involved?
I suspect it was probably several hundred. It must have been horrendously complex to deal with.”
Dpt Ch Walton said: “You’re entirely correct.
“Virtually every member of the operational fire service attended the incident at some time during those three weeks.”
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: “A man and woman who were arrested remain released under investigation pending continuing enquiries by Bradford CID.”